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Szczur the day: Ex-Cub embraces trade to SD for chance at starting job

Matt Szczur may have found home since a trade from the Cubs to the Padres earlier this month.

SAN DIEGO — Matt Szczur got a ring, a role in baseball history and some close friends out of his career with the Cubs.

But he only got his real chance to play when the Cubs traded him this month to the perpetually rebuilding San Diego Padres to clear a logjam on the roster.

‘‘It came at me hot, for sure,’’ Szczur said of the trade May 8, which he knew was possible since he went to spring training without options as part of a loaded Cubs outfield. ‘‘But it’s a good change. I needed to get out and see if I could be an every-day guy and be able to play somewhere else.

‘‘I love [the Cubs]. I loved everything about being a Cub. But it just wasn’t the right place for me. We won the World Series together, which was unbelievable. And now I’ve got to turn the page and get on to the next chapter.’’

Szczur, who came off the Padres’ bench to play center field in a double switch Monday, started only twice for the Cubs this season. He already had started 12 times for the Padres, and manager Andy Green said he expects Szczur to get a lot more opportunities.

‘‘It was well-known when he left the Cubs that he was a glue guy, a high-character guy, a guy that everybody enjoys and rallies around and works incredibly hard,’’ Green said. ‘‘All those descriptions of him are accurate.’’

Green has used rookies Allen Cordoba and Franchy Cordero in his starting outfield in recent days, but he said he sees Szczur continuing to play a significant role in his plans.

‘‘Matt’s going to get more opportunity than he would have gotten in a Cubs uniform,’’ Green said.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant called Szczur ‘‘one of my favorite teammates and the hardest worker I’ve been around.’’

‘‘It stinks he had to leave us,’’ said Bryant, who went to college in San Diego and served as Szczur’s personal GPS for local hot spots. ‘‘All of us miss him.’’

Szczur didn’t make the Cubs’ World Series roster, but his bat and underwear were involved. First baseman Anthony Rizzo borrowed one of his bats and broke out of a slump with a big home run, and shortstop Addison Russell broke out of a slump after subsequently borrowing his underwear.

<em>Szczur pinch hits vs. Cubs Monday</em>
Szczur pinch hits vs. Cubs Monday

Szczur said he sees a chance to play an even bigger role in a turnaround with the Padres after going through that with the Cubs. Maybe he’ll be an every-day player by then.

‘‘I hope it’s headed that way,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s great to get that opportunity.’’

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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